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European Union Delegation to the Republic of Liberia
Monrovia, May 24, 2018
European and Liberian experts develop a national plan to mitigate
chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear related threats (CBRN)
From May 23-25, Liberian and European Union specialists gathered to proceed to the identification of the main actions needed in order to strengthen the country’s system to mitigate threats emanating from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear agents and materials.
Three experts from the Joint Research Centre, one of the scientific bodies of the European Union, participated in the workshop which gathered all the Liberian stakeholders playing a role in the prevention, preparedness and crisis response of CBRN-related incidents whether of a criminal, accidental or natural origin.
This activity took place within the framework of a global action referred to as the “European Union initiative of the Centres of Excellence for CBRN-related risk mitigation”. This cooperation programme brings now together 60 countries worldwide clustered around 8 regions. The objective is to support participating countries to develop national capacities and internal coordination as well as to strengthen regional and international cooperation which is crucially needed to tackle this issue that does not stop at national borders.
After the designation of a national focal point and the establishment of a national CBRN team, a first workshop was organised in Monrovia in 2016 in order to identify major needs to mitigate CBRN threats and this follow-up workshop is a step further towards the development and adoption of a national action plan that should notably help better target national priorities through the capacity-building projects that are funded by the initiative in each region covered.
The exercise is based on a methodology specifically developed by the EU covering legislative, regulatory, strategic, institutional and operational aspects. This process enables the determination of the measures to take to reduce CBRN-related risks in conformity with norms and international best practices.
Liberia is part of the Centre of Excellence of the African Atlantic Façade region since August 2013 together with Morocco (where the regional secretariat is based), Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Gabon. The country currently participates in two projects, one on the management of epidemics and the other on the mitigation of chemical industrial risk. It has also participated previously in three projects, one just ending on the management of biological and chemical waste, one on the management of sensitive CBRN-related information and finally one on the development of e-learning courses on CBRN risk mitigation.
On the occasion of this workshop, Mrs. Emma Sundblad, Chargé d'affaires at the European Union Delegation underlined that "development of a national action plan will allow aligning our support as closely as possible to the needs identified and prioritised by Liberia".
Incidents related to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear materials and agents have dramatic human, social and economic consequences. In some cases, their consequences may reach a point where they actually threaten to jeopardise development achievements. To a certain extent, these incidents can however be prevented and their consequences mitigated through preparedness and coordination.
It is with this objective to strengthen CBRN governance worldwide that the EU set up the Centre of Excellence Initiative. Launched in 2010, it pursues the objective to prevent, prepare and help respond to CBRN-related incidents which can be of a criminal, accidental or natural origin. It does so by promoting and supporting political and operational cooperation at internal, regional and international levels. Since these threats often have a transnational nature and require a high-level of expertise requiring the sharing of best practices and the pooling of resources, the action has a regional approach.
There are three levels of actions that it works on. At the institutional level, each participating state is asked and supported to nominate a national focal point and to establish a national team comprised of all relevant stakeholders. At the political level, they commit to proceed to the identification of their needs through a specifically developed methodology (Needs Assessment Questionnaire – NAQ) and, on this basis, to develop and adopt a national action plan (NAP). At the operational level, participating countries benefit from several regional capacity-building projects that they develop together. These projects cover a wide variety of fields including for instance safety and security, emergency planning, crisis response, export control, illicit trafficking, storage and disposal, and redeployment of scientists.
To date, there are 60 countries belonging to 8 centres of excellences for South East and Eastern Europe; African Atlantic Façade; North Africa and Sahel; Eastern and Central Africa; Middle East; Gulf Cooperation Council Countries; Central Asia; and South-East Asia. These centres are administered by a regional secretariat located in one of the concerned participating countries. These secretariats benefit from administrative, logistical as well as technical assistance.
Financed by the EU with a budget of EUR 185 M for the period 2007-2017, this endeavour is implemented through its Joint Research Centre and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.
For more information on the initiative: http://www.cbrn-coe.eu